Both Large and Small Charities Play an Essential Role in Society

Author: Andrea Wong, President

The title of a recent letter to the Toronto Star, “Business approach doesn’t fit”, caught my eye, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was written by one of Endeavour’s board members and advisors, Alex Gill. Alex shares his concerns about “the troubling approach taken by Charity Intelligence toward identifying efficient charities” in response to the November 25, 2009 column by Carol Goar, “Holding charities to business standards”.

In her column, Goar tells readers that “just in time for Christmas giving”, Charity Intelligence has released its 2009 recommended list of charities that offer donors “the biggest bang for their buck”. We learn that twelve Toronto charities that made it onto the list are well known with influential corporate/institutional backers. These charities do excellent work and deserve recognition, but as Goar points out, “so do many small, grassroots voluntary organizations that will never win a Charity Intelligence seal of approval. They change lives in ways that can’t easily be measured. They know their clients personally and take the time to listen to them. They don’t aspire to be big, businesslike or competitive. Some charities deliver services efficiently. Others mobilize citizens, strengthen communities, combat indifference and solve problems in ways that defy market analysis.”

Although some of our consulting projects focus on helping non-profits become more efficient or to explore earned income ventures, we don’t select clients on the basis of efficiency and our goal isn’t to help our clients become more business-like. In contrast, Endeavour works with smaller non-profit organizations that may never win a Charity Intelligence seal of approval, but are doing very important work for our communities. We focus on serving non-profits that don’t have the financial backing of large corporations/institutions. They are not able to afford professional consulting, but can improve their effectiveness and impact with some assistance and guidance.

We encourage you to learn more about Endeavour’s free consulting services. Applications for upcoming spring/summer projects will be accepted until February 1, 2010.

I also encourage you to read the full column by Carol Goar, “Holding charities to business standards” at http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/730336 and Alex Gill’s response at http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/731544. I welcome your thoughts and feedback on the articles.

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